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37th Annual Capital Region Students and Teachers Who Make a Difference Recipients

  • Academy of Holy Names
    Castine Hardesty Castine is an intelligent, enthusiastic, and talented young woman. She has maintained an outstanding average in every discipline, while challenging herself with the most rigorous course load. She has been an active member of the school community, leading clubs and participating in our renowned science research program. She is an accomplished pianist, sharing her talent with the community. Her pursuit of excellence is evident in all that she does. Castine will be studying biology at Cornell in the fall. ____________________________________________________________________________ ​ Deborah Baxter Mrs. Baxter is an incredibly special person. There is something fascinating about being in the presence of someone who loves what she does with every ounce of her being. It is because of Mrs. Baxter that I first fell in love with biology. I look up to Mrs. Baxter’s work ethic, her wisdom, and most importantly, her kindness. She taught me the wonder and magic of science, and she has changed my life.
  • Berne-Knox-Westerlo
    Ashlee Stevens “There is no excuse to ever give less than 100% at anything you do.” This adage MUST be Ashlee Stevens’ personal motto. A high 90s student who was a star performer in multiple sports at BKW, and in local organizations, Ashlee has a ubiquitous smile, positive attitude, and calm demeanor. There isn’t a task that Ashlee can’t handle, and there isn't a person who has met her that doubts her talents, and her wonderful personality. ____________________________________________________________________________ ​ James Lemire Mr. Lemire has had a lasting impact on my life. He taught me to persevere through hard times and that anything is possible if you put your mind to it.
  • Bolton
    Sophie Del Signore Sophie Del Signore is the Valedictorian for the Class of 2023. Sophie will earn a Regents Diploma with Advanced Designation with an endorsement in Math and Science. Some of Sophie’s activities include the National Technical Honor Society, National Honor Society, Drama Club, CTE Cosmetology Program, Varsity Golf Team, Saint Mary’s/ Saint Alphonsus Church Youth Ministry, where she has been a dedicated community and church volunteer. ____________________________________________________________________________ ​ Lori Humiston Mrs. Humiston has always pushed me to reach what she knows is my highest potential. She doesn’t only teach, she guides and motivates as well.
  • Broadalbin-Perth
    Ethan Brott Ethan is a gifted academic student who will graduate from Broadalbin-Perth High School having completed 40 college credits! Ethan would best be described as a curious, diligent, compassionate, and adaptive student. He is excited to continue his studies in the Early Medical Scholars Program at the University of Rochester which is one of the top undergraduate medical programs in the nation. ____________________________________________________________________________ ​ Matthew Battisti Mr. Battisti is the hardest-working teacher I have seen. Back in October, he challenged me to take AP Calculus BC, a class Broadalbin-Perth does not currently offer, rather than AP Calculus AB to challenge myself to be the best student I can be. He goes above and beyond, often staying two hours after school with me every day in April to prepare me for the Calculus BC AP exam. He also has made learning extremely fun. He is super passionate about teaching physics and calculus, typically what one would call difficult and mundane topics, and created an extremely enjoyable environment to easily learn. He’s got a great personality and has phrases that have become ingrained in our class's culture. He’s guided me a ton with not only physics and calculus but also ideas of what to take and look forward to in college. Mr. Battisti has had the greatest educational impact on me as a student at BP.
  • Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake
    Ella Jean Neary Ella Neary is a young woman of high moral standards, remarkable compassion, impeccable diligence and unwavering dedication toward her goals. Her warm smile, kind spirit and calming presence, round out her winning personality. Ella is inspiring, she has a hopeful outlook on life and she will positively touch the lives of many people in the years to come. Throughout high school Ella has consistently elected a most rigorous academic program in which she has attained above average success and without question, education is a top priority for her. Ella is an incredibly organized and conscientious student who strives for high grades, but ultimately for Ella, it is more about truly understanding whatever it is that she is attempting to master and learn. She has developed excellent strategies to maintain a healthy mindset and she is a great judge of when to bring closure to tasks so that she doesn’t become overwhelmed. Ella’s favorite subjects are math and science. She enjoys using problem solving to find creative solutions, she is not intimidated by complex math equations and she is motivated by assignments which allow her to brainstorm and infer before solving. Ella’s teachers recognize her as an excellent role model for other students in the classroom. She is eager to learn, offers insightful observations, asks thoughtful questions and exhibits genuine respect to others. All of these qualities will serve Ella well as she moves on path forward toward her dream of going to medical school. When Ella is not in school or completing school work, she engages in a variety of extracurricular interests and she enjoys a busy lifestyle. Ella’s involvement outside of the classroom includes being a four year orchestra and chamber strings member, playing on our girls’ varsity basketball team as well as AAU travel ball, assisting in several academic honor societies and volunteering for a local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. Ella is very well respected by her coaches, music teachers, fellow athletes and orchestra members. Ella has great sportsmanship, she collaborates well with all students and displays a humble attitude, showing she is always learning on the court or as a musician. Ella accepts leadership and responsibility with ease and she has mastered balancing a busy extracurricular schedule with demanding academic responsibilities. Ella Neary is well deserving of recognition as a ‘student who makes a difference’. She is a remarkable young person who is engaging, accomplished, motivated and one to surely touch the lives of others in a positive way. ____________________________________________________________________________ ​ Jacqueline Grassmann Mrs. Grassmann has the incredible ability to emanate positivity each and every day without fail. Her devotion to teaching is evident through her encouragement of students to develop as both writers and individuals. Her immense compassion and way of connecting with students is truly admirable, specifically in being an outlet for so many for advice, guidance and inspiration. Whether it is greeting students in the hallway, or an enthusiastic and engaging lesson, she can instantly illuminate someone’s day. I, alongside countless others that have been lucky enough to have crossed paths with Mrs. Grassmann, will owe a portion of my future successes to her and the exemplary attitude and values that she embodies.
  • Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake
    Jacob Brian Pausley Jacob Pausley is an optimistic, kind, even tempered, smart, intuitive and morally grounded young man. Additionally, he is a superior student, dedicated family member, talented athlete and respectable role model in his school community. Throughout high school Jake has elected a highly demanding college preparatory program in which he has shown commendable achievement He considers math and business to be his best and favorite subjects. Jake really enjoys using mathematical principles to troubleshoot real life situations and he is very interested in studying the principles of finance and investing. Jake’s career goal at this point is aimed toward being a financial planner or investor. In the classroom, Jake is the type of student all teachers enjoy having. He is eager to learn, respectful, disciplined and cooperative. He has a genuine enthusiasm for learning, takes initiative, is a great self advocate and the ‘go to’ person in classes when teachers are looking for someone to assist a peer who may need extra assistance. All of these qualities, combined with his intrinsic curiosity, are the evidence that Jake will have a rewarding academic future at the post-secondary level. Jake is truly more than a young man who excels in the academic arena. He has many interests and has made meaningful contributions in sports, school clubs and volunteering in the community. Throughout high school, Jake has been a dedicated member of our boy’s varsity football and lacrosse teams along with participating in FBLA, honor societies, Spartan Buddies for Special Needs and volunteering at a local city mission. Jake is well respected as a leader for his steady and calm approach on the field and his drive to continually put forth his best effort for the good of the team. Through all of his extracurricular interests, Jake has learned to work as a team player, set goals, multitask, problem solve and prioritize his responsibilities. Although he keeps a busy schedule, Jake has learned to successfully balance his academic responsibilities with his extracurricular interests. Jake Pausley is an ambitious, intelligent and conscientious young man who without question will reach great heights in his future endeavors. He is well deserving of the recognition of a ‘student who makes a difference’. ____________________________________________________________________________ ​ Jennifer Wheeler Mrs. Wheeler has not only inspired me throughout my time at Burnt Hills High School, she has inspired every student she’s taught. For me personally I’ve had Mrs. Wheeler since Sophomore year and she has truly helped spark my love for business. From her classy classmate tips of the day, which taught me how to dine with a king or queen to an expansive world of knowledge on how to invest for the future. Mrs. Wheeler has influenced me to strive beyond the business knowledge I've received in high school and has now instilled a love for business that will carry me into college and hopefully a career into the corporate world.
  • Cairo Durham
    William Sherburne Billy Sherburne is a well-rounded young man and has much to offer the world. Billy is a driven, grounded, and capable person with a curiosity of spirit and a commitment to growth. As a student, Billy has shown tremendous effort and achievement. He has been named valedictorian of his class, and has kept up with rigorous content and coursework all while juggling several extra-curricular activities and securing a job. Billy is also a skillful writer, talented musician, and a committed humanitarian. This year alone he wrote, premiered and directed his own play for our school’s spring drama production. He also completed his Eagle Scout merit, and was the lead in the high school musical. Billy, no doubt will be able to use his talents, growth mindset, and leadership skills into the future. His dedication to serving others and his drive to learn will pay off in college. Throughout his years in high school, Billy has participated in numerous school and community activities. Not only has he been the president of the National Honor Society, he has taken on several leadership roles during a time when students, in general, show a disinterest in getting involved in the school community. He wears many hats, and does it well. The quality that makes Billy Sherburne most endearing is his willingness to go the extra mile to help those around him, all while using his talents for the betterment of other people. He values each person, takes time to get to know and care for the people around him, and has an innate way of knowing how to connect. ____________________________________________________________________________ ​ Sarah Clermont Few teachers have had nearly the impact that Sarah Clermont has had on her students. As a music teacher that oversees a sixty person high school chorus, alongside a middle school chorus and countless other classes, Mrs. Clermont interacts with huge amounts of students everyday. And yet despite this, she manages to connect with each and every one of them on a personal level, listening to them when they are upset, and supporting them when needed. With Mrs. Clermont, you are more than just a chorus student, you are a trusted and valued individual who's worth she makes known. Beyond this, she goes out of her way to give opportunities to all students such as facilitating the high school musical, and arranging multiple field trips. Some of my favorite memories are from these incredible trips, like going to Broadway or the Opera. The point is, Mrs. Clermont actively goes out of her way to make students feel involved and valued. The sheer dedication she has for her students has made a difference in each one of their lives. It certainly has in mine.
  • Cobleskill-Richmondville
    Nicholas Underwood Nicholas is the valedictorian of the class. He is the the recipient of the Capital District Leadership Award as well as the Bausch & Lomb Honorary Science Award. He is a C# coding instructor and Arduino (mirco computer)coding instructor. He plans to study finance at Cornell University's Charles H. Dyson School of applied Economics and Management. ____________________________________________________________________________ ​ James LaMena Mr. LaMena has been an inspiration for me ever since I met him in eleventh grade. From his witty humor to his engaging classes, I have enjoyed every moment I’ve spent with him.
  • Cohoes
    Quincy Hytko Quincy Hytko is a dedicated student athlete who has put in much time and effort into all aspects of her life. Quincy is also the Valedictorian of the Class of 2023! Throughout her time at Cohoes High School, she has held leadership positions in various clubs such as: National Honor Society, Student Council, Yearbook and Journalism Club, and served as the Vice President of the Class of 2023. Quincy works hard and aims to perfect everything she completes. She strives to be a respectful and responsible role model for those around her. Her motivation in the classroom is equally exemplified in her sports, as she is a 3 sport varsity captain, and works closely with her teammates in soccer, basketball and lacrosse. Quincy will be attending the University of Miami and majoring in Communication. She thanks Cohoes High School for a great four years and for teachers she will remember for a lifetime. ____________________________________________________________________________ ​ Michael Kloczko Mr. Kloczko is an influential teacher who has fostered my growth from the day I stepped foot into his classroom. I have had the opportunity to have Mr. Kloczko as my teacher for four years at CHS, most recently through the Science Research program. With his guidance, he has helped me become the student I am today. I am thankful for his vast knowledge and help with all of my research endeavors. He has helped me become critical of time management and confident in my own work. Mr. Kloczko has also put me on a path of professionalism, teaching me skills that will help me personally and academically. I will forever be grateful to have had Mr. Kloczko as a teacher and will carry on all of the things he has taught me.
  • Corinth
    Paul Granger Paul Granger is Corinth's current Salutatorian and one of our brightest students in the district. His future plans are to attend college and major in Computer Science. He hopes to live a peaceful work life balance while ideally living off the grid with access to technology. ____________________________________________________________________________ ​ Drew McEvoy Paul feels strongly about his connection to Mr. McEvoy from his experience with him as his 8th grade ELA teacher. During this time Paul states that Mr. McEvoy allowed him to explore his creative expression, thus helping his development as a writer; but more importantly as a person.
  • Christian Brothers Academy
    Noah Ryan Noah has earned the distinction of being Valedictorian of his class. He excels in Math and Science and will major in physics next fall at RPI. Noah has a passion for music and has earned top level recognition for his talent and diliegence. ____________________________________________________________________________ ​ Sarah Waite Ms. Waite was my teacher all throughout middle and high school. She saw me grow into the person that I am today, and she even believed enough in me to trust that I could lead the marching band senior year. Thanks to her, I grew into a leader. She is also one of the hardest workers I’ve ever met, and she continues to be a model of diligence, even after I graduated.
  • Germantown
    Marissa Cidras Marissa is a graduating senior at Germantown High School. She is also graduating from Questar III Boces with a certification as an EMT. In her high school career she was a two-sport athlete playing basketball and softball. In the fall she will be attending SUNY Cobleskill to pursue a career in the medical field. ____________________________________________________________________________ ​ Sonia Williams Sonia Williams teaches middle school math in Germantown. She graduated from SUNY New Paltz with a Bachelor of Science in Education as well as a Master of Science in Education. She holds three public school certifications: a permanent certification in pre-K, K, and Grades 1 through 6, a professional certification in Mathematics 7-12 and a professional certification in Literacy (Birth – Grade 6). She has been teaching 19 years total and 18 years in Germantown Central School District. She is married and has two children and a dog. When she is not teaching, she enjoys time away in the Outer Banks.
  • Germantown
    Amara Sickles Mrs. Hilton was my teacher in both 7th and 9th grade. She supported me and always believed I could succeed even when I felt I could not. Towards the end of ninth grade, I found out I had a learning disorder and that was the reason I had always previously struggled in school. I began taking medication and instantly saw improvement in my academics. Mrs. Hilton was able to see me go from a failing student to a student on high honor roll and in the honor society. Through it all she supported me and always expressed she was proud of my accomplishments and without her I wouldn't have had the confidence I did in the beginning of my high school years that I feel helped shaped me to be the person I am today. ____________________________________________________________________________ ​ Stacy Hilton Stacy Hilton is the principal of Germantown Junior/Senior High School. All of her graduate work was done at SUNY New Paltz, where she earned a Master of Arts in English, Teaching and a Certificate of Advanced Study in School Leadership. Prior to working in school administration, she taught English at Germantown to grades 7-12 from 2011-2021. She and her husband enjoy sailing, running and traveling.
  • Gloversville
    Sarah Dworman Sarah Dworman is our top senior. She currently has a GPA of 99.42. ____________________________________________________________________________ ​ John Savage Mr. Savage has had a profound impact on my education. He has pushed me as a musician to expand my skills and knowledge and has offered a safe haven all four years of high school. He has always been the highlight of my day and has shown me what it means to lead with kindness. My career has and will be thoroughly shaped by what I have learned from him.
  • Gloversville
    Abigail Seltzer Abigail Seltzer is an exceptional student. She is currently ranked 2 in her class with a GPA of 98.04. ____________________________________________________________________________ ​ Sara Watkins Dr. Sara Watkins has had a significant impact on my education and who I am as a student. The subject matter in latin has always been an interest of mine, and being taught by someone so knowledgeable in the subject was a dream come true. Dr. Watkins does not shy away from setting boundaries and deadlines, but still always keeps the students best interests in mind. She has shown me the type of expertise I hope to exude later in life but first and foremost has been a teacher.
  • Greater Amsterdam
    Emmalee Carpenter Emmalee Carpenter, daughter of Jacki and Chris Carpenter. This years AHS Class of 2023 Salutatorian. She has participated in the AHS Marching Rams all of high school and has served as Treasurer for two years. She is an 8 year Clarinetist and will continue music in college. Emmalee will be attending Rochester Institute of Technology for Computing Security. She will be earning her bachelor’s and master’s degree in 5 years with RIT’s BS/MS program. ____________________________________________________________________________ ​ Andrea Eriksen An amazing physics teacher who always helps students. She’s supportive and committed to making education fun. Her kindness for students is to be commended.
  • Greenville
    Nuala Kappel Nuala Kappel is a role model to her peers, she is brilliant, compassionate and driven. She is currently our Valedictorian and is maintaining a 101 cumulative grade point average in our most rigorous courses. She is a member of the National Honor Society and a scholar athlete for Varsity Soccer and Softball. ____________________________________________________________________________ ​ Julie Hamilton Mrs. Hamilton has influenced me by expanding my perspective on real-world issues, encouraging me to pursue my passions, and showing genuine interest in my success.
  • Greenwich
    Teagan Wright Teagan is a star in life! The amount of responsibility she is able to juggle is only second to the quality of effort she puts into it all. Teagan is extremely capable. Despite being busier than most, she is endlessly positive and inclusive. It is fitting that Teagan recognizes Mrs. Hoffman for her enthusiasm, curiosity and individuality, because this is also how Teagan leads her life. Greenwich is a better place for having had Teagan Wright a part of it. ____________________________________________________________________________ ​ Jessica Hoffman Ms. Hoffman bounds into the classroom every day, bringing contagious enthusiasm and genuine curiosity for everything and everyone. She is unafraid of individuality and encourages others to be just as fearless.
  • Guilderland
    Maxine Alpart Maxine is an exceptional student and a champion for social justice. One of her significant contributions has been her leadership with our district DEI initiatives as well as being a Student Voice committee leader. She was also instrumental in coordinating our first and now annual Anti Hate Rally. Additionally Maxine is a three season athlete and participates in our music program. Her leadership and involvement is well respected by adults and peers. This fall Maxine will be attending Colgate University. ____________________________________________________________________________ ​ David Kosier Coach Kosier has been my cross country, indoor track, and outdoor track coach for the past 4 years! Coach is kind, understanding, and determined to push every athlete to do their best. Coach Kosier has taught me the importance of a good work ethic and what it means to work hard for what you want. His coaching has taught me not only how to be a better runner, but a better person as well.
  • Guilderland
    Kelly Nhan Kelly is an outstanding student with contagious energy. She is a strong leader and has relished her roles with the student government, building cabinet and Key Club International. She has impeccable character and has made an extraordinary impact on our community. Kelly will attend Albany College of Pharmacy in the Fall. ____________________________________________________________________________ ​ Michael Piscitelli Mr. Piscitelli is not only our high school principal, but also a mentor to many students and has played an invaluable role in shaping my own character and building my leadership skills. Mr. Piscitelli has been a consistent source of motivation for me, consistently encouraging me to actively participate during Building Cabinet meetings in order to build my leadership skills. His unwavering support and guidance have played a crucial role in my high school journey. Whether it was empowering me to take on challenging tasks, offering valuable advice, or simply being there to listen, Mr. Piscitelli has always been there for me. His constant belief in my potential has also given me a stronger sense of confidence, allowing me to push past my boundaries, explore new opportunities, and help me become who I am today. I am forever grateful for his dedication, support, and unwavering belief in me. Mr. Piscitelli's influence has left a permanent mark on my life, and I aspire to be as empowering to others as he has been to me.
  • Hudson City
    Alyssa Henderson Alyssa is a talented writer and the editor of the school newspaper. Her passion for writing has inspired her to pursue this field in college. She has challenged herself by attending BARD while completing her education at Hudson High. She is mature, dependable, and kind to all who are privileged to know her. She is an asset to the Class of 2023 and will succeed in every endeavor that comes her way! ____________________________________________________________________________ ​ Theresa Cipollari Mrs. Cipollari has always believed in me even when I didn't believe in myself. She has made me a better writer and leader and I will always be grateful for everything she has taught me.
  • Hudson City
    Marissa Scali Marissa is an outstanding and talented student. She has shown talent and dedication as a member of our band and leadership as an officer in our chapter of Tri-M Music Honor Society. She is one of the most reliable and involved music students while maintaining an extremely rigorous course load with college and AP classes. Students like her are the fuel that keeps teachers going. ____________________________________________________________________________ ​ Scott Vorwald Mr. Vorwald has provided me with a much-needed outlet amidst a sea of academic classes by introducing me to the world of music. He consistently goes above and beyond to ensure that students have ample exposure to the world of music. His enthusiasm and love for music inspires students to develop their own appreciation for it. He taught me that's it okay to hear my own voice and to not be afraid to make mistakes along the way and to believe that even the quietest voices hold meaning and that every contribution, no matter how small, is valuable.
  • Lansingburgh
    Jonah Foster Jonah will be attending Lehigh University and will be majoring in journalism in he Fall. He is a member of the Jazz band, football team, baseball team and president of the National Honor Society. He was the Vice President of his freshmen class, President of his junior class and Vice President of his Senior class. ____________________________________________________________________________ ​ Justine Fazziola Mrs. Fazz is the best teacher I’ve ever had. Not only has she been incredible in the classroom, but she has always been available to talk about whatever. Mrs. Fazz helped me find my voice and write about things that matter, things that I care about. Without her I would not be the student and writer that I am today.
  • Mohonasen
    Elaina Garmer Elaina Garmer has been an active member of MHS Peers for Peace/ No Place For Hate for the majority of her high school experience. Elaina is outspoken & a champion of human rights issues, and she is always willing to do the right thing, regardless of personal consequences. An issue that Elaina fought quite passionately about was the banning of the Confederate Flag at the high school. Elaina strongly believes that the Confederate Flag is a hate symbol, and that it has NO place in a public high school space. Elaina met with the Principal, Superintendent, and presented at a BOE meeting encouraging the District to make a policy to address this issue. Ultimately, Elaina was successful in her activism, as the Mohonasen District developed and implemented a policy last year banning the display of the Confederate Flag. Elaina has embraced her leadership with P for P/ NPFH, and she has served as the President of the Club this year. Under her leadership, we successfully implemented & executed four school wide activities - Black History Month, Women's Her-story Month, The Day of Silence & UNITY Day - earning our 6th consecutive Gold Star School Award for Mohonasen High School. ____________________________________________________________________________ ​ Diane Blinn Blinn has always been the number one person that I could go to for advice, comfort, and guidance. She has helped me so much throughout my high school years.
  • Mohonasen
    Shawnjohn Kannamore Shawnjohn Kannamore has used his personal experiences to advocate for Free, Universal Meals for ALL students in NY schools (Healthy NY initiative). As a foster kid, Shawnjohn is no stranger to the issues of food insecurity and hunger. Shawnjohn took an active role in advocating for Free, Universal Meals by joining other student leaders & BOE members to share his personal story & lobby at the State Assembly. Shawnjohn's willingness to share his story was pivotal to the lobbying efforts. Although the Governor of NY did not initially put free universal meals in her budget, NY State passed this in their budget, effective for the 2023-2024 school year. Shawnjohn continues to lobby and advocate to address food insecurity and hunger for all school aged youth! ____________________________________________________________________________ ​ Richard Burega Mr. Burega has given me information on things I didn't know about as I entered Mohonasen High School. He has acted as a mentor, helping me with my education and helping me be successful in life.
  • New Lebanon
    Lindsay Tompkins Lindsay Tompkins is the Valedictorian of the New Lebanon JRSR High School Class of 2023. She is the Vice President of Student Leadership Council, as well as the President of Student Council. Lindsay has been recognized for various accolades such as HOBY, Clarkson Achievement Award and the University of Rochester Frederick Douglas & Susan B. Anthony Award. She has been on Varsity soccer and is an active member in our high school choir. Lindsay will enlist in the Army Reserves and then enroll at Western New England University to major in Neuroscience with a minor in ROTC. ____________________________________________________________________________ ​ Valene Synakowski I have had her as a choir teacher since 7th grade; she has taught me how to be confident in myself and learn to love who I am. I owe part of my success and self-assurance to her.
  • North Colonie
    Regan Doherty Regan Doherty is an exceptional student. She has an appetite for the sciences, an interest in the arts, and a talent in both. She is a Suburban Council Winner for Tennis, a member of the Empire State Youth Orchestra, a Gold Award recipient for the National German Exam, and the recipient of the NYS Capital District Society of Women Engineer’s Certificate of Merit. She is thoughtful, thoroughly organized, and unwavering in her pursuit of excellence. ____________________________________________________________________________ ​ Christine Connor Frau Connor’s passion to share her language and enthusiasm in all lessons taught me to see language beyond communication, as a way of personal connection. Her dedication has inspired me to love German and to continue studying it.
  • North Colonie
    Sophia Rayburn Humble and high achieving, Sophia accomplishes her goals through hard work and dedication. She will graduate in the top 5% of the Class of 2023 and attend Providence College in the fall. With a heart for service, she readily volunteers to help with meaningful school and community initiatives. A member of the National Honor Society and Tri-M Music Honor Society, Sophia has many passions including dance, playing the flute, traveling, and spending time with her family. ____________________________________________________________________________ ​ Saskia Dolan Mrs. Dolan has had an incredibly positive impact on my education this year. She's very passionate about her students' success, and is always eager to teach. Her class has inspired me to continue studying economics in college, which I am incredibly grateful for.
  • North Colonie
    Annika Robin Annika Robin is a remarkable individual who demonstrates excellence in academics, music, and athletics, while also making community service a priority. Graduating in the top 5% of the Class of 2023, she is a member of the National Honor Society, Tri-M Music Honor Society, and has been honored with numerous awards and scholarships. In all she does, Annika shines brightly, truly inspiring others to be their best. She will attend Cornell University in the fall, majoring in Biological Sciences. ____________________________________________________________________________ ​ James Bell Dr. Bell challenged me to develop my critical thinking and writing skills. He encouraged me to think outside the box and embrace different perspectives.
  • Northville
    Rosa Derstine Rosa is an accomplished scholar, a committed athlete, and a faithful member of her church community. Rosa's academic prowess is second only to her faith, and her plans to attend The Word of Life Bible Institute will serve to grow both aspects of her life. She has been an invaluable member of her College English class, College Statistics, and Honors Economics. She has also been a key member of the track and field team throughout her high school career. ____________________________________________________________________________ ​ Tim Penisten Mr. Penisten makes class interactive and engaging. He creates opportunities for debate, opening his students up to new ideas.
  • Saratoga Springs
    Abigail Bundy Abby is a senior at Saratoga Springs High School and will be attending Hamilton College to study Political Science and French. She plays soccer for the Saratoga Wilton Soccer Club and was a varsity soccer captain. She also plays the violin and viola and is the President of Fiddle Club, Co-President Tri-M Music Honor Society, Secretary National Honor Society, Co-President Science Research Club, and a Double H Ranch Volunteer. ____________________________________________________________________________ ​ Jessica LaBello Mrs. LaBello has been my orchestra teacher for four years, over which she’s taught me that we learn the most when we have fun and inspired a lifelong love of music in me.
  • Schodack
    Tyler Marino Tyler is an outstanding young man and the top student at Maple Hill Junior-Senior High School. His dedication to his studies is exemplary and his commitment to helping others is truly commendable. Although unassuming, Tyler's intelligence and concern for others shines through. He uses his gifts as a volunteer Writing Center tutor to help students in grades 7-12 and also volunteers to help with reading at the elementary level. Tyler is our school's top qualifier for the Scholarship for Academic Excellence and is a member of the National Honor Society. Tyler will continue his studies next year at Union College. ____________________________________________________________________________ ​ Janice Balogh Mrs. Balogh helped me discover my preferred method of learning which allows me to excel in her class as well as in personal learning experiences.
  • Schoharie
    Morgan Phelan Morgan Phelan has been named the Valedictorian of Schoharie Jr./Sr. High School’s class of 2023. Morgan is the daughter Katherine and Andrew Phelan and has attended Schoharie Central School since kindergarten. Morgan is active in school extracurriculars as Class of 2023 treasurer, National Honor Society President, Key Club president, Varsity Club president, and a member of the select choir. She has been a dedicated member of the Girls Varsity Soccer Team since 8th grade and was named a captain her senior year. Morgan was named Western Athletic Conference (WAC) 1st team soccer All- Star and a Section 2 All Star. Morgan has also participated in the school musicals throughout her time at Schoharie. She has performed in “Shrek”, “Newsies” ,“Once Upon a Mattress”, “The Little Mermaid”, and “Catch Me if You Can”. Outside of school, Morgan has been participating in travel soccer since she was 8. She also enjoys swimming competitively, and spends her summers lifeguarding and instructing swim lessons at the local pool. After high school, Morgan plans to go to college and major in engineering. She also plans to study abroad. Morgan would like to thank her parents and teachers for supporting and contributing to her success. ____________________________________________________________________________ ​ Carrie Styles Mrs. Styles is an incredible teacher who never fails to go above and beyond for every student whether they are in her class or not. Her enthusiasm and passion for what she teaches inspires everyone around her. She pushes all of her students to reach their full potential not only when it comes to singing but in life. Her door is always open for anyone who needs to talk or for anyone who just needs a friend. Mrs. Styles has been my music teacher for the past 4 years and her kind heart has made a difference in my education at Schoharie High School.
  • Schuylerville
    Lillian Letzring Lillian Letzring is a very intriguing student and individual to have conversations with. She carries incredible academic abilities coupled with a desire to learn and obtain knowledge on so many levels. Lillian’s curiosity has driven her to immerse herself in a varied amount of courses throughout high school, giving her the opportunity to explore numerous topics and curriculums. She has found an appropriate balance between core courses alongside her love for music and the arts. ____________________________________________________________________________ ​ Katie Bottisti Mrs. Bottisti was my sophomore year Algebra II teacher and my senior year AP Calculus teacher. I loved and respected her as a teacher in Algebra, and always felt productive and that I was learning. This year in Calculus her class has been fun and engaging while also being extremely productive, making it my favorite class this year.
  • Sharon Springs
    Brady Law Brady Law is a senior at Sharon Springs Central School. This year he was given an opportunity to be a part of the New Visions Engineering Program at ONC BOCES. He is attending Syracuse University in the fall to pursue a degree in Engineering. Throughout his highschool career he participated in many extracurriculars, such as SkillsUSA, varsity soccer, varsity basketball, FBLA, FFA, Science Club, Honor Society, and National Technical Honor Society. ____________________________________________________________________________ ​ Dan Cornwell Mr. Cornwell is a middle and high school math teacher at Sharon Springs CSD. Mr. Cornwell continually pushed me to get into my New Visions Engineering program, which has helped me tremendously towards my future. He always believes in me as a student and never looked past my full potential over the years.
  • Shenendehowa
    Emily Zhou Emily has been named Valedictorian for the class of 2023. Emily is a voice for her peers and serves as a student representative on the board for CAPTAIN. Emily is a well-balanced, artistic student who is passionate about STEM. To share her interest, she created a website and helped facilitate the K-12 Science & Health Discovery Night hosted at Shen. This major community event serves to inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers, and healthcare professionals. Emily is a confident, self-motivated, and versatile student with a modest and unassuming nature. Emily will be attending Princeton University in the fall. ____________________________________________________________________________ ​ Jenna Kitchen Ms. Kitchen introduced me to the expansive implications of language beyond the text. Her class helped me blossom as both a student and a person.
  • Shenendehowa
    Ashlie Zhang Ashlie has earned her position as Salutatorian for the class of 2023. Ashlie’s competitive spirit and team focus serves as an inspiration to all. She is a member of the Team 20 First Robotics Team and Varsity tennis. She is a creative writer and gifted artist who holds the position of President of the National Art Honor Society. Ashlie is an energetic and open-minded student who is a valuable contributor to our Shen community. ____________________________________________________________________________ ​ Keziah Armstrong Magistra Armstrong taught me how important practice, dedication, and determination are to lifelong learning. I am incredibly grateful to have learned Latin from Magistra.
  • Shenendehowa
    Insa Qureshi Insa Qureshi is an outstanding young adult who is committed to making the world a better place. She is a dedicated volunteer ENL teacher for Breaking Barriers through Education. Every Wednesday at 11:15 p.m., Insa teaches English via Zoom to children in an impoverished area of Pakistan. She also volunteers at a local women’s hospital and is an officer for our UNICEF club. Insa plans to work in healthcare and serve the underserved. ____________________________________________________________________________ ​ Megan Gifford My counselor has assisted me in making informed decisions regarding my future and persevered with me to work harder. She not only guided me through the college process but also helped me become a better individual.
  • Shenendehowa
    Anthony Yang Anthony is an exceptional student and math enthusiast. He shares his passion for math with middle school students in his role as coach of the MathCounts Club. He serves as President of the National Math Honors Society and manages SHED - a student-led help desk providing technological support to our entire student body. Anthony is a humble and dedicated student leader with a friendly, positive personality. ____________________________________________________________________________ ​ Katherine Sapienza Mrs. Sapienza has been the best counselor by giving me the support and advice throughout my high school education and motivating me to give it my best even through the hardest times.
  • South Colonie
    Hailey Lotz May 2022 - September 2022 Internship with Regenrative Research Foundation - NeuraCell Core Facility - worked as research tech to image forebrain cortical organoids and quantify growth rates with a Zeus"s flourescent microscope and Zenn Blue Software. Concession worker at Regal Cinemas (9/22-present) Present member of Empire State Youth Orchestra (Clarinet) and Attended NYS All-State Symphonic Band as well as performed in Broadway Camp's pit orchestra at Proctor's Theater in Schenectady, NY. Participated in school's Cello ensemble Alleycats Soccer (9/2015-6/2022 competed in games or tournaments every weekend Colonie Girls Varsity Soccer (8/19-10/22) Captain in the 2022 season. Team broke records for most games won by a Colonie Girl's Soccer team. Student Senate Vice Presedent from June 2022- June 2023 Junior Class Vice President from June 2021- June 2022 Executive Club Member from 9/2019 thru present Volunteer Opportunities: Cofounder, Marketing Director for Growth for Green - an environmental nonprofit to support environmental activism and women's involvement in the movement. Colonie Town Library: Started teen book club and leads monthly meetings; member of Teen Advisory Board; Participates in summer volunteering ; Started yearly "Blind Date With a Book" where every February teen books are wrapped in paper to conceal their titles and descriptions are written on the fronr for readers to borrow an unknow story. Proctor's Theater - Scan tickets, usher patrons to seats and monitors audience for safety and behavior during performances. Commended as a Nation Merit Scholar for 2023 and recipient of the Society of Women Engineers Certificate of Merit (2022); Multicultural High School Scholar (2022); Perfect Score on All-State NYSSMA Solo (2022); Defensive MVP on Colonie Girls Varsity Soccer (2021); Congress of Future Medical Leaders Award of Excellence (2021) ____________________________________________________________________________ ​ Sarah Nagel Chosen by student because..."Mrs. Nagel has been one of the most influential teachers I've had for her unrelenting support in all areas of my life. Her passion made French my favorite class of the day, and her genuine care for all her students makes her someone we can always count on for held, advice, and enthusiasm." Sarah Nagel is a middle school French teacher in the So. Colonie Central School District. Mrs. Nagel graduated from SUNY Cortland with a BA in French Education and received her Master's from SUNY Potsdam. Mrs. Nagel also has her SAS and SDA certifications. She has been teacher World Languages for 29 years. She enjoys traveling and playing golf.
  • South Colonie
    Caitlin Tully Alto, Suburban Council Music Festival; Violist Area All-State; National Honor Society member based on volunteer hours, personal essay, and GPA. Key Club Member; Teacher's Assistant and Principal Violist with the Saratoga Youth Symphony; Violist with NYSSMA Festival; Coach with Twist "N" Flip Gymnastics ; Competitive Gymnastics Team Member (Twist "N" Flip Gymnastics); Best Buddies Member @ Colonie Central High School . VOLUNTEER: Toys for Tots ; City Mission, Schenectady, NY serving meals and bagged food for the homeless; Regional Food Bank; played viola duet for seniors at the Home of the Good Shepherd. School Volunteering includes Senior Citizen Dress Rehearsal Dinner; Multicultural Fesival; Badminton Tournament for Key Club Event; work at concession stand for Freshman Boys Basketball games; assist setting up for the December Concert Part II; assist with school Open House event for parents; worked RAIDERFEST-an event to raise money for suicide prevention; worked Halloween High-a community event. AWARDS: Junior year recipient of the Keuka College George H. Ball Community Achievement Award. Raider Scholar high honor roll. ____________________________________________________________________________ ​ Peter Cannistraci Chosen by Caitlin Tully because..."Mr. Cannistraci has motivated me and helped me progress through all four years of high school. I aspire to become a great teacher like him!" Celebrating 25 years of teaching music in the South Colonie Central School District where he currently directs the high school Symphonic Orchestra. Teaches high school string lessons and is Music Department Chairperson. For a total of ten times, under Mr. Cannistraci's direction, So. Colonie has been named "Best Community for Music Education" by the NAMM Foundation; for 15 years was String Editor for Kendor Music - an educational music publishing company; graduated summa cum laude in 1998 from the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam with degrees in Music Education and Violin Performance. Has performed along side artists like The Irish Tenors, The Trans-Siberian orchestra, Josh Groban, Clay Aiken, John Mathis and Il Divo. As guest conductor, Mr. Cannistraci has directed orchestras at All-County Festivals for Rennselaer, Schenectady, Sullivan and Saratoga-Warren Counties, as well as throughout the Suburban Scholastic Council, Saratoga Spring Youth Orchestra and Delmar Community Orchestra. Mr. Cannistraci lives in Latham, NY with his wife, Michelle and children Mark (17) and Jenna(14) - all of whom are musicians.
  • South Colonie
    Christopher Rennells Hudson Valley Kids on Campus July 2022 - August 2022 - camp counselor; Hansen's Farm and Nursery May 2021 - Fall 2022 - Customer Service Associate; Catechist Aid at St. Clare's Church; Experience in Coding: developed a Wordle Bot - solves daily wordle puzzles; Minecraft Server: created and managed a multiplayer Mincecraft server with over 20,000 players joining. Hired and Supervised a management team to assist with moderating and improving game play. Tutored Geometry. Trained in First Aid. Varsity Soccer, JV Soccer, Freshman Soccer, Indoor/Outdoor Track, Executive Club, Team Member National Science Bowl 2018-2021; Travel Soccer FC Dutchman Premier; Math Club Treasurer; Team Captain National Science Bowl Team 2021-2022; 2022 Recipient of Rensselaer Medal Award; 2020 Fabulous Freshman Award for Indoor Track; president's Education Award for Outstanding Academic Excellence; NYS Comptroller's Achievement Award; Varsity Boys Soccer Cleary Award; JV Boy's Soccer 100% Award , Honor Roll and Honor Athlete ____________________________________________________________________________ ​ Michelle Schrader Christopher nominated Mrs. Schrader because..."Mrs. Schrader ignited my passion in Chemistry. Thanks to her inspiring teaching, I have found my calling in Chemical Engineering, a path that I might never have pursued without her class and the captivating experiments that we conducted." Michelle Schrader holds a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Rensselaer and a MAT from Union College. She has been enjoying teaching chemistry for 18 years at Colonie High School.
  • South Glens Falls
    Eden Taft Eden is an exceptional young woman who strives for excellence. She is kind, intelligent, and inquisitive. She has maintained high honors for all four years of high school while challenging herself with academically rigorous courses. As a member of Key Club, National Honor Society, and Business Club, Eden has volunteered for events and activities throughout the community. She has won multiple awards during her high school career, including the Presidential Award for Academic Excellence. Eden will be attending Siena College in the fall and is exploring majors in the science field. ____________________________________________________________________________ ​ Laurie Gutheil Mrs. Gutheil was my U.S. History teacher. In and out of the classroom, she is dedicated to helping her students succeed. When I struggled with college decision-making, she talked me through the process and boosted my confidence. She arranged a college tour for me, connected me with students in the fields I was interested in, and introduced me to a professional in a career field I was considering. For the past two years, she has been one of my greatest pillars of support and has gone above and beyond to help me. Her advice has been priceless. I am incredibly grateful for her guidance and proud to know such an incredible woman and teacher.
  • Stillwater
    Nurshinta Berry Nurshinta Berry is the Valedictorian for the Class of 2023. Nurshinta is a member of the National Honor Society, Drama Club, Chorus, Chambers and Student Government. She has been awarded the Rensselaer Medal and the University of Rochester's Bausch + Lomb Honorary Science Award. She plans to study Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. ____________________________________________________________________________ ​ Kara Pitkin Mrs. Pitkin is an important part of my life. She keeps her doors open to all students and has a hugely, positive impact on the Stillwater community.
  • Troy
    Marie Borca-Tasciuc Marie is the Validictorian for the Troy High School Class of 2023. Marie earned 26 college credits through Hudson Valley Community College and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. As a Senior, Marie was accepted into the New Visions STEM Program. She is a member of Math Honor Society, National Honor Society, Troybotics and Masterminds Teams, Drama Club, Concert Choir and performed at the NYSSMA competition. Marie competed in soccer and indoor track on the varsity level and also earned NYS Seal of Biliteracy in Romanian. As a Junior, Marie received the RPI Medal for outstanding performance in Math and Science. She will attend RPI in the Fall. ____________________________________________________________________________ ​ Shawn Haarer I never thought I would really enjoy Computer Science. It just didn't really seem up my alley, as I've tried to program before and didn't really like it. However, one of Troy High's most inspirational teachers (in my opinion), Dr. Haarer, really changed my view on this subject. He not only sparked my interest, but also made it fun. I appreciate his use of humor during class and his engaging lessons. It really improved my high school experience.
  • Troy
    Inari Sohn Inari is the Salutatorian for the Troy High School Class of 2023. Inari has earned 43 college credits through Hudson Valley Community College, SUNY Albany and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. As a senior she was acepted into the New Visions STEM program. She is a member of Math Honor Society (Vice President 11th grade, President 12th grade), National Honor Society, Masterminds (Captain 12th grade), French Club (President 11th grade), Band/Jazz Band and Drama Club Stage Crew. Inari received the University of Rochester George Eastman Young Leaders Award as a Junior. She will be attending American University in the Fall. ____________________________________________________________________________ ​ Hope DeBevoise My eighth grade Honors Engish class with Mrs. DeBevoise was the first class in all my years of school that truly challenaged me. Up until that point and even for some of high school, my English classes felt repetitive and monotonous. Mrs. DeBevoise transformed that boring classroom atmosphere and showed me how exciting reading and writing could be. From giving me the first "bad" grade (it was an 88) on an essay to providing me with meaningful criticism, my writing and work ethic undeniably improved because of her. Sometimes her feedback disappointed me, but it was what I needed to improve, which is what students should be getting and expecting from every one of their teachers. Looking back I appreciate how Mrs. DeBevoise taught me to value and interpret literature, which set me up for success in the rest of my academic career.
  • Voorheesville
    Julia Young Julia is a senior at Voorheesville High School and will be attending Princeton University in the fall. She has enjoyed almost every academic subject, but has been impacted most by science, music, and Spanish. She participated in Science Olympiad all four years of high school, and was heavily involved in music through her school’s music program and outside pursuits in songwriting and composition. She is passionate about distance running, and has been on the cross country and track teams since seventh grade. ____________________________________________________________________________ ​ Chris Jantson I choose Mr. Chris Jantson because of the role he has played in my musical development from ninth grade through now. He taught me regular and AP Music Theory Freshman and Sophomore year, supported me in going to the NYSSMA All-State conference to play French Horn, and facilitated an independent study where I wrote a piece for our concert band. He has demonstrated his passion for his student’s learning through his effort to help me pursue any musical concept I am interested in.
  • Waterford-Halfmoon
    Tess Gleason Tess is the valedictorian of the Class of 2023 at our school. She is an extremely hard worker who takes great pride in her academics. She also gives a lot of time to her extra curricular activities. She is a member of National Honor Society, Student Government, Yearbook Club and SideKicks. As a sophomore Tess was selected as our school’s Hugh O’Brien Youth Leadership Program (HOBY) representative. She was able to attend a seminar to learn about leadership and community service. Tess gives her time to the Toys for Tots toy drive each year and has volunteered at Faith’s Food Pantry for a number of years. She is a compassionate student who enjoys helping others. ____________________________________________________________________________ ​ Debra Ford Mrs. Ford has been the teacher who has influenced me the most because she is a dedicated educator with a strong sense of morals and principles. She is committed to equipping children with the necessary skills for success, and her passion for English is evident in class. She acknowledges and values the effort students put into their work and encourages them to strive for excellence. Her devotion to providing the best education possible while also forming connections with students during the pandemic was something that I valued about her. She has prepared me with the fundamental grammar and writing skills essential for a writer and taught me the importance of individuality, staying true to one's principles, and working hard. Mrs. Ford has been a crucial influence on me, and her encouragement has helped me become the person I am today. I will forever be grateful for having her as a teacher during my sophomore year of high school.
  • Watervliet
    Karina Leibach Karina is a very intelligent and hard working student. She is every teacher's ideal student who they would want in their classroom. She is respectful and kind. Karina is extremely motivated and goal driven which shows in her nearly perfect GPA. Her dedication to her studies and to helping those around her will be valuable assets as she embarks on the path to higher education. ____________________________________________________________________________ ​ Rebecca Sweeney Mrs. Sweeney is one of the kindest teachers I have ever met. She cares about all of her students and always gives her best. Mrs. Sweeney teaches her students not only Spanish, but valuable life lessons. She has the ability to brighten anyone's day as soon as they walk into her room. I am so glad to have been a part of her class.
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